Pentas are a common garden plant native to warm tropical regions. They are known for their blooms and brilliant colors as well as their overall hardy nature. Pentas are also a great plant to add to any garden area to attract hummingbirds and butterflies as well. Taking care of these plants is easy when you know how to start.
In this Article
Pentas Plant – General Info
- Falling Star Pink Bicolor
- Graffiti Lipstick
- Graffiti Violet
- Honey Cluster Pink
- Starcluster Lavender
- Starcluster Rose
- Starcluster White
- Starla Red
Optimal Hardiness Zone
US Hardiness Zone 10
Best Growing Location
Pentas are not the fastest and most vigorous growers which makes them great for smaller garden areas that can quickly become overgrown. They are commonly used in potted containers or as flower bed plants in home and business landscapes. Pentas plant care is fairly basic as this guide will reveal, which only adds to their overall popularity. Pentas flowers can be treated like annual flowers in climates colder and in warmer climate to US hardiness zone 10 they can be grown as a perennial or biannual at least.
Pentas bloom all summer long and can start early and continue long past normal seasons in warmer climates where hard freezes are not an issue or major concern.
The flowers are generally shades of red and pinks with some natural cream and white varieties being known. Man-made cultivars have introduced colors such as yellow and purple and bi-colored blooms as well.
Full grown size
The plant commonly is grown as a small shrub and is usually kept around 3 ft in size with pruning but if left on its own can top off at 5 to 6 feet tall and several feet in spread. It must have ample space, brig light, and moderate moisture levels to reach these maximum heights, and it can take several years of growth to do so.
Penta Plant Care
Pentas is not a needy plant. Offer them some amount of light and water and they will thrive. Here are some of the recommended settings to keep in mind while growing pentas.
Light and well-drained mixes are needed when grown in pots or containers. In the garden, pentas thrive in dry and sandy soils and do not tolerate soggy soils and damp low-lying areas. My soil mix is 70% garden soil + 30% coco peat. To start with, I used a small pot (about 6 inches in diameter) but you can use bigger ones or just plant them in the ground.
When they are fully established, these plants are very hardy and hold up well to higher temperatures and more drought-like conditions. This makes them super easy to care for and maintain.
In my case, first few weeks I was watering once a day. Now, they are about 4 months old and I water them once every two days. Adult plants may require a good amount of water but make sure the soil does not get soggy.
Pentas do best in full bright light and will not grow as big or produce as many blooms if they are kept in areas that are too shady. Partial sun is ok, but they need a good 6 hrs minimum of light.
I keep my pentas plants outdoors and they get about 7 hours of direct sunlight every day.
Most varieties and cultivars of pentas do well in higher temperatures, which is why they are popular in drought prone areas. They will die back in a hard freeze and might not recover.
At my place, the room temperature is about 77°F or 25°C average with lows of about 66°F or 19°C. These plants are doing great with this temperature.
Pentas are a plant species that does not need a lot of humidity to thrive. They do best in dry conditions and can actually suffer from overwatering and too much moisture.
Mature plants can benefit from some occasional fertilizing with a bloom-boosting fertilizer mix during the spring and summer months. Less is more so diluting the mix is usually recommended.
When grown in pots and containers, pentas may occasionally need to be moved to a larger pot. They are, however, much more tolerant of tight roots balls than many other plants.
In cold temperature regions with more than a week of sub-freezing weather, pentas usually will not come back the following year. In warmer climates, they can grow for several years.
Pentas can be left to grow naturally into a full bush or the tips can be pruned back regularly to maintain a manicured look. You can also pinch off the dead blooms to encourage more flowers.
I do not let them grow over 12 inches and prune them once in a while. Pruning makes the plant look bushy and aesthetic. Highly recommended. If not pruned, they can easily grow over 2ft tall.
Ways to Grow/Propagate Pentas
Pentas are common garden plants, and they can be propagated in several ways depending on what your set-up is and what you are able to handle.
- From Seeds – Penta pants can be started from seeds though it can take 7 to 9 weeks before they are able to be planted outside, so they will need to be started indoors quite early.
- From cuttings in Soil – Pentas can also be propagated via softwood cuttings, dipped in powder rooting hormone, and started indoors.
- From cuttings in Water – The same process for taking cuttings applies to the water method. The cuttings however will be placed in a small glass of water so they can begin to form roots.
How to Grow Pentas from Seed
Penta seeds should be started indoors 7-9 weeks before planting time. The soil used should stay moist and be kept around 75-degree F, so the seeds can germinate and start to grow- a process that takes around 14-21 days. When the seeds sprout, they need to be given natural sunlight if possible or be placed 3-4 inches away from bright grow lights. Seedlings should not be given any fertilizer until they are around a month old and even then, it should only be used sparingly indoors. When the seedlings are around 2 months old, they can be moved into larger pots or placed outdoors into the garden.
Pentas Cuttings in Soil
Cuttings from Penta plants can be taken during the summer months and are best taken from terminal tips where the plant is actively growing and producing new leaves. If possible, choose a piece that is not flowering. If that is not possible, the flowers will need to be removed, so they do not pull nutrients away from root production. A good size to shoot for with your cutting is around 4 to 6 inch long and of the softer green stem material of the plant.
The cuttings can be treated with rooting hormone and then placed in the soil for 2 weeks or until a good root system as started to develop. Cuttings need to be kept moist but not damp for several weeks while the roots form.
Pentas Cuttings in Water
Cuttings can also be grown in water and the process is basically the same as above as far as selecting and taking the cutting. You may want to remove a few more of the bottom leaves from the cutting, so they do not rot in the water as quickly.
Generally, it is easier to propagate plants in water. But you have to take extra care after transferring the cuttings over to the soil medium
A very light and diluted liquid fertilizer can be added to the water if so desired to help improve root production during this time. It will be easier to see the roots develop with this method, but it should still take along the same length of time as soil rooting methods.
Once you have visible roots (~an inch at least), you can transfer these cuttings over to soil medium. Dig a hole large enough to insert the cuttings without damaging the roots. Once inserted, you can gently push the soil to hold the cuttings tightly.
Once transferred, add a lot of water to the pot. Yes, a lot of water. I recommend overwatering for at least a week because the plant needs time to get adjusted to a hard medium. I have had so many plants die during this process. So, adding more water for the first few days is the key. If things go right, you should see some progress/new shoots coming out in about 2 weeks.
In my case, it was a success. I transferred both the cuttings to a soil pot and they are thriving now.